LeBron James faces Kevin Durant in Battle of Superstars | NBA
Their statistics were nearly identical, mirror images of dueling superstars in search of the slightest of edges. But as LeBron James of the Miami Heat and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder spoke late Thursday night, it was clear the psychology of the NBA Finals had been flipped in favor of the Heat.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Their statistics were nearly identical, mirror images of dueling superstars in search of the slightest of edges. But as LeBron James of the Miami Heat and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder spoke late Thursday night, it was clear the psychology of the NBA Finals had been flipped in favor of the Heat.
James, analytical and confident, understood Miami nearly blew Game 2 after being in command with double-digit leads most of the night. Regardless of how the Heat beat the Thunder 100-96, he is not interested in attaching statements to victories.
"We want to make enough plays to win basketball games," James said, "not to answer any questions about what people have to say about us."
Durant, miffed after the Thunder's first home loss in this postseason, realized he had been checkmated in making the crucial plays down the stretch.
"I tried to stay aggressive," he said. "I tried to keep my team in it. They believed in me, and we had a chance. It's tough to lose that one."
James and Durant, who each scored 32 points in Game 2, were locked on each other most of the time and took their duel to a higher level as the Heat tied the best-of-seven series 1-1. Games 3, 4 and 5 will be in Miami beginning Sunday, with the narrative between James, the league's most valuable player, and Durant, its top scorer, shifting to an even more dramatic phase.
James made all 12 of his free throws.
"We've just got to help each other out," Durant said of guarding James. "We've got to close the paint out. He's a strong guy, he's getting to the rim and he's getting the calls, and we've just got to do a better job."
With nine seconds left and the Heat leading 98-96, Durant missed a jump shot as he drove against James and the two became entangled without a foul being called.
"I want to guard the best at the biggest point of the game," James said. "K.D. is an unbelievable talent. He can make every shot on the floor. I just try to keep a body on him, make him take contested shots. He got away from me a couple times that I'm not too happy about."
• Game 2 of the Finals got a 10.4 rating on ABC, highest for a Game 2 since 2004 — when the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers got a 10.7.
• San Antonio guard Tony Parker said he has a scratched retina as a result of a New York nightclub brawl involving singer Chris Brown and members of hip-hop artist Drake's entourage Thursday. Police said bottles were thrown and several people were injured in the melee.
Parker, 30, a friend of Brown's, said he expects to be idle for about a week while the French team prepares for the Summer Olympics.
• Phil Jackson, who coached 11 teams to league championships, said "there might be" a job that would lure him out of retirement.
Jackson, 66, resigned from the Lakers after last season; he told HBO's "Real Sports" he is feeling better after having knee-replacement surgery in March.
• Tom Benson, owner of the NFL New Orleans Saints, has officially gained control of the New Orleans Hornets. In April, Benson agreed to buy the Hornets for $338 million; the team had been owned by the league since 2010.
|Best-of-seven series between Thunder and Heat (all games on Ch. 4)|
|1||Oklahoma City 105-94|
|3 Sunday||Miami||5 p.m.|
|4 Tuesday||Miami||6 p.m.|
|5 Thursday||Miami||6 p.m.|
|6 x-June 24||Okla. City||5 p.m.|
|7 x-June 26||Okla. City||6 p.m.|